Forest Bathing


For the past several years the Great Smoky Mountains has been America’s most visited National Park. Travelers come from all over the world to enjoy Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg’s endless venue of entertainment attractions, and to explore one of Mother Nature’s premier wonders . . . next to Alaska of course 😊

Living here makes October my most labor-intensive month. Local residents, bedecked in vibrant colors, descend on our digs up here on the mountain > down in the ‘holler’ > over the ‘crick’ . . .

LEAVES! . . . lotsa’ and lotsa’ LEAVES! . . . zillions of billions of LEAVES!

My best Fall friend is only 3 feet tall. Each morning we meet up to remove the leaves that have smothered our 1/10th mile, 40-degree slope driveway since the day before. To neglect this chore would jeopardize us being able to drive up out of the ‘holler’ to the gravel road leading to civilization . . . I love my leaf blower! 😊

After reclaiming our driveway today, I took a  woods wander along the ‘crick’ for some shinrin-yoku . . . ‘forest bathing’. The Japanese coined this term to describe the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal. I’m not Japanese, but it works for this ole ‘Kraut’!

Studies have shown just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of well-being for up to seven days. This includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Among the health benefits are enhanced immunity, reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety. The same three days in a built environment has no such effect.

Sooooooo . . . while leaf-blowing is not one of my favorite activities, I always look forward to my ‘forest baths’ from whence they came . . . and I don’t even have to get wet 😊. Here’s a shinrin-yoku ‘modern art’ pic from today.

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sin for joy.”

Psalm 22:9

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Congestion Gratitude


Took a road trip this past weekend from laid-back, rural TN to full-press, urban VA for a medical appointment. Can you guess which pic was taken from our rural TN backyard, and which was taken from our urban VA hotel window?  If you’re having difficulty, I have the phone # of my wife’s ophthalmologist to consult 😊

I’m genuinely grateful for the multitudes of urbanites whose 60 hr.+/week careers and services necessitate they reside in megalopolis dodging gridlock to keep our society operating. I’m equally grateful this ole retired, ‘Everyday’s Saturday’ dude is blessed to reside in ‘rural congestion’, currently dodging falling leaves 😊

Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure.”

Psalm 16:9

Lotsa’ Bears


There’s always an adventure pending with our feral friends here in the Smokies up on the mountain . . . down in the ‘holler’ . . . by the ‘crick’.

Two days ago Mr. Smokey came by to check things out. I was ‘bearly’ awake early this morning when Mrs. Smoky and her triplets wandered through for a quick splash in the creek . . . Ellen advised against skipping breakfast to join their pool party at the risk becoming breakfast and giving them food poisoning😊

These bears untroubled, carefree meanderings brought a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote to mind,

   “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

P.S. – Please ignore temperature, date, time shown. I need to hire some young kid to show me how to figure out my game-cam settings 😊

Early Morning Visitors

Great Smoky Mountain Splendor


Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who see takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Today, in the Fall splendor of Great Smoky Mountains, I gazed amazed in barefoot wonder.

“This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.”

Malbie D. Babcock

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Smoky the Bear


Been kinda’ dry here lately in the Great Smoky Mountains. Today Smoky came by our cabin to wade in the creek out front and remind us . . . Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!

Always an adventure sharing the forest with our feral friends up here on the mountain > down in the ‘holler’ > by the ‘crick’ 😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come !

Creation Miracle Moment


Yesterday I stood mesmerized in the forest, immersed in a golden rain. Like a child jubilantly blowing bubbles, a puff of Divine breath launched a thousand gold flakes into the air on their memorial journey to earth . . . a Creation miracle moment.

Embraced in total peace, my soul rejoiced in freedom knowing . . . I am completely known, and I am completely loved . . . just as I am, not as I should be. Thank you Abba.

“I am not what I ought to be.  I am not what I want to be.  I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be.  And by the grace of God, I am what I am.”

John Newton

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Golden Rain

The Blind Boy


Ever experience a situation you later regret not taking the time to offer helping someone? . . .

  • a motorist with the hood up on the side of the road
  • an elderly lady pulling two loaded shopping carts through the supermarket parking lot
  • a mother trying to comfort her crying young child who just tripped and fell on the sidewalk

You just read three I’ve been guilty of this past year when, unlike the Good Samaritan, I was too ‘busy’, and chose to “…pass by on the other side of the road…”?  . . . proof positive I’m an ever continuing Christian work-in-progress. My regrets linger, but I’m forever grateful my Abba always has time for me in spite of my ‘blindness’.

Soooooo . . . what prompted these lamentable musings . . . reading the story below today. Whether it’s true or not, its message is. It poignantly reminded me while I sometimes may be ‘blind’ to others in need . . . Love is never blind.

The Blind Boy

Five computer saleswomen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They assured their husbands they would return in ample time for dinner. The meeting ran overtime, and the women ran to the train station tickets in hand.

As they barged through the terminal, one woman inadvertently kicked over as table supporting a basket of apples. A 10-year-old boy was selling apples to pay for his books and clothes for school. Without breaking stride, the women clambered aboard the train with a sigh of relief . . . all but one.

She paused, got in touch with her feelings, and experienced a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple-stand had been overturned. She told her companions she would catch the next train. Later she told them, “I’m really glad I did, because the 10-year-old boy was blind.”

As the woman gathered up the apples scattered about the floor, she noticed several were bruised. She reached in her pocket and said to the child, “Please accept twenty dollars for the apples I damaged. I hope I didn’t spoil your day. God bless you.”

As she started walking away, the bewildered blind boy called after her, asking, . . .

Are you Jesus?”

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Nature vs. Civilization


Mt. Rainier

On each flight into and out of SEATAC I’m inspired by a mountain. Towering 14,410 ft., Mt. Rainier pierces through the clouds in silent sentinel watch in over the cacophony of Seattle’s nearly 3 ½ million souls 59 miles to the southeast . . . a bittersweet contrast.

On this flight it was as though Mt. Rainier was gasping for air above the smoky haze of Oregon’s wildfires far to the south. It heightened apprehension that our planet’s escalating nature/civilization skirmish is one I fear nature is losing. Yet, in the melancholy beauty of the sunset, two Scripture verses and one classic secular quote quietly reassured me:

In His hands are the depth of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.” – Psalm 95:4

 “…to appoint unto them that mourn, and give them beauty for ashes…” – Isaiah 61:3

It ain’t over till it’s over”- Yogi Berra 😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Hiking and Potato Chips


Fallen aspen leaves kinda’ resemble potato chips, and fall hiking in the Last Frontier is sorta’ like eating potato chips . . . it’s hard to stop at just one more!😊

Here’s a few ‘potato chip’ pics from today’s wilderness wander, sadly my last before snow-birding south in a couple of days  . . . well maybe  . . . there’s still lotsa’ golden potato chips out there😊

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Lotsa’ Potato Chips’

Berries with ‘Potato Chips’

Chugach Range Fall

‘Potato Chip’ Frame

Nature’s Still Art

Final Greatland Wander


Looks like we’ll be on a jet headed south for the winter next week. Rather than spend the day going through another box of Kleenex today, I hiked up Castle Mountain to dry my tears 😊. I built a rock cairn on top with a Good Book pocket edition for other solitude seekers.

Here’s a few pics snapped along the trail, and one of my foraging feral friends who showed up to bid me adieu. Like Arnold, I assured him, “I’ll be back!” 😊

Big Calf
Fall’s Farewell

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Chugach Range Vista
Survivor
Last Blueberries

Rocky Portal

Good Book Cairn